Gratitude & Generosity

Perhaps it’s a happy accident of history that Christmas follows Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude. Christmas inspires a great deal of generosity, even for those who do not celebrate it as a religious holy day. Gratitude and generosity are the two sides of the same coin. And each year we get to experience this tandem in these holy days.

Thanks to Richard Rohr’s daily devotionals, I recently I came across a writing by Lakota activist and author Doug Good Feather about the connection of gratitude and generosity. He writes, “Gratitude and generosity are similar virtues, but they differ in that gratitude is an internal characteristic and generosity is our external expression of our sense of gratitude. Basically, gratitude is how we feel, and generosity is how we express that feeling out in the world…” That is a beautiful idea that gratitude is the internal experience and generosity is the externalize expression of that experience. Perhaps, one without the other is incomplete.

In this writing, called Think indigenous: Native American Spirituality for a Modern World, Good Feather also explains that gratitude loosens where we are stuck by disrupting negative thoughts. It aligns us with the Creator, he says, as gratitude allows us to see everything as a gift. If that is true, then generosity allows us to put those thoughts into action and be a part of God’s active love. And in doing so, it allows the gratitude to grow in others.

Thanksgiving loosens all our stuck-ness from the year through this overwhelming sense of gratitude. And then we immediately shift into a season where we externally express it through our generosity. Sure, this season is often marked by busy-ness, overconsumption, and making sure we’re picking out just the right gift. But instead of an exercise in stress and frustration, I pray these holy days are filled with this tandem of gratitude and generosity for you and yours. I pray that God’s love comes to life in you and that you make that love come to life in others.

Gratefully, David

Lesley Andrews

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